Monday, August 14, 2023

Absalom sets a trap for Amnon: What is the legacy you'll leave behind?

King David allowed two sins into his life when he committed sexuality immorality by taking Bathsheba to be his wife. Then he committed murder when he ordered Uriah the husband of Bathsheba to be left to die in battle.

In my family, certain sins have persisted over the generations. My grandpa smoked most of his life, quit later in life, my dad quit after smoking, and I smoked, and later quit as well.

There are certain sins that can persist in the family line once they come about. King David had committed sexual sin, and then we saw his eldest son Amnon do the same when he violated his sister Tamar.

Now we’re going to see another incident in which sins that David committed crop up among his children.

Sin has consequences. And not always just for you. What about the people around us? What about our children? Will they notice our example and follow it? The example we set can be destructive.

The opposite is also true. If we set an example of righteousness, then it may yet continue through our family line into the future.

During the Korean war my grandpa didn’t go with the other guys to the strip clubs or bars, he would stay in the trenches. He was a married man. He later would share the gospel with my mom and me and we would get saved. He was establishing in his family a lineage of faith.

Many things are connected in ways we don't fully realize. So many things are connected in our lives with the past. Almost everything in fact in our society, not just our individual lives, is linked with hundreds and thousands of years of history and historical precedents. God works that way. His system works that way. The sin of Adam and Eve has affected every single person on planet Earth ever since.

My decisions of my ancestors affect my life today. The decisions of my grandfather and dad affect my life. My dad worked at the salvation army, now I work for the salvation army as well. Many things are connected in ways we don’t fully realize.

God sees the big picture. So we can trust Him. Our part is to trust and obey. We can be victims of history. Or we can change the story, by striking out in faith. 

But let’s dive into 2nd Samuel 13, second half of the chapter, starting at verse 23-24:

23 Two years later, when Absalom’s sheepshearers were at Baal Hazor near the border of Ephraim, he invited all the king’s sons to come there. 24 Absalom went to the king and said, “Your servant has had shearers come. Will the king and his attendants please join me?”

Absalom apparently had many sheep, and it was customary to celebrate, have a feast, a celebration, at the time of the shearing of the sheep. It’s similar to how in the USA we celebrate thanksgiving after harvest time in November.

Absalom invites King David and his family to attend the celebration.

Next in verses 25-27:

25 “No, my son,” the king replied. “All of us should not go; we would only be a burden to you.” Although Absalom urged him, he still refused to go but gave him his blessing.

26 Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon come with us.”

The king asked him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But Absalom urged him, so he sent with him Amnon and the rest of the king’s sons.

So we start to see what Absalom is up to. Absalom has hated Amnon since Amnon violated his sister Tamar. He wants to make sure Amnon is at the feast.

King David is suspicious at first, but being that all his sons will be there, he assumes then Amnon would be safe. Safety in numbers, right?

Next he carries out his plan, in verses 28-29: Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Haven’t I given you this order? Be strong and brave.” 29 So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered. Then all the king’s sons got up, mounted their mules and fled.

King David had once ordered his men to get rid of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. Now, Absalom follows in his father’s footsteps,and orders his men to kill Amnon.

At the height of the celebration, Amnon is struck down in front of Absalom’s brothers. They all flee the area.

In verses 30-31: While they were on their way, the report came to David: “Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons; not one of them is left.” 31 The king stood up, tore his clothes and lay down on the ground; and all his attendants stood by with their clothes torn.

The King is so horrified by this report that he rips his fine clothing and lays flat on the ground in the middle of the throne room.

David thinks all his sons are dead. But it’s not actually true. As it says in verses 32-33: But Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother, said, “My lord should not think that they killed all the princes; only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom’s express intention ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 My lord the king should not be concerned about the report that all the king’s sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.”

But the only thing here is that Jonadab shouldn’t actually know that. He may have been planning this whole thing with Absalom, as he is one of Absalom’s advisers. So he tells the King something he shouldn’t necessarily know. That only Amnon is dead.

In verse 34: “Meanwhile, Absalom had fled.”

Absalom runs for his life after he commits the sin of murder. He is now on the run, an outsider, and he knows it. So he runs and leaves the region for a time. 

Have you ever been "on the run" in your life? It's a scary feeling, fleeing everything you know. I've been there a few times. I've been out in the wilderness, running from my problems. But the thing is, running has never worked. The solution always was to return and face my problems. But I couldn't face them alone. I had to have God living in me, and then I could overcome and defeat those problems through the power of faith. 

Next we see the arrival of David’s sons to the throneroom… in verses 34-36:

Now the man standing watch looked up and saw many people on the road west of him, coming down the side of the hill. The watchman went and told the king, “I see men in the direction of Horonaim, on the side of the hill.”

35 Jonadab said to the king, “See, the king’s sons have come; it has happened just as your servant said.”

36 As he finished speaking, the king’s sons came in, wailing loudly. The king, too, and all his attendants wept very bitterly.”

This brutal murder is so destructive for the family. Have you and your family ever experienced a devastating loss? It shakes the entire family to the core. Sometimes it will draw the family closer together. Other times it will divide the family, and they will go their separate ways.

I’m sure many of us have seen both eventualities. When my five year old cousin Elizabeth drown, it caused the family to pull together and care for one another. We strengthened our bonds. 

But when my grandpa and later my grandma died, it caused the family to separate. It was like the glue of the family had been removed. And we began to split and separate. It's a sad thing to see a family divided. But often as time passes, and people die, that is what happens. 

In verse 37 we see Absalom flee to a foreign nation. It says, “37 Absalom fled and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. But King David mourned many days for his son.”

David mourns the loss of Amnon his eldest son, but also mourns for Absalom who has fled the nation. Even though Absalom killed Amnon, David loves Absalom dearly.

Sometimes our love for our own children can be a stumbling block. We let them get away with too much. Or we treat our children with special deference. We give them special privileges. We let them get away with "murder" as the saying goes. Perhaps that idiom could be drawn back to David and Amnon? I don't know. 

I've seen that where children are given special rights, in a business, or at a church, and it causes everyone around the situation to notice the bias and special privileges given to the children of the leader or CEO. It causes many to become bitter and resentment. And it causes the children to become prideful and arrogant. 

A word of wisdom: Treat your children with balanced scales. They will learn humility and your friends and coworkers will learn that it is wise to not show favoritism. They will respect you for it. 

In verses 38-39: After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he stayed there three years. 39 And King David longed to go to Absalom, for he was consoled concerning Amnon’s death.

King David finished mourning for Amnon. Absalom stays in Geshur for 3 years. King David I’m sure is torn by emotions in this situation. He must be greatly upset that Amnon is dead. He must be angry with Absalom because Absalom killed Amnon. He must also know that Absalom was angry about Tamar. He must regret not disciplining Amnon. Part of him I’m sure was terribly upset with Absalom, yet his love for Absalom was strong and he longed to go to him. But he couldn’t of course.

Absalom was guilty of murder. He could not go to him. Yet he loved Absalom his own son. So he longed to go to him. 

I’ve always felt there was something more going on, something deep, between King David and Absalom. I think this situation represents how God felt when Lucifer rebelled against him in heaven.

Lucifer was the most beautiful angel. He was popular everyone loved him. But pride was found in Lucifer. Lucifer wanted to be god. Lucifer wanted his father's throne. Much like Absalom wanted the throne for himself from David. Absalom was said to be the most beautiful man in Israel. And David loved him dearly. 

God loved Lucifer dearly. And I’m sure when Lucifer rebelled, God longed to go to him and try to bring him back. But he couldn’t. Lucifer had made his choice, to become a rebel. And so God had to stop him. Even to this day, the story continues, Lucifer became Satan and is "the adversary" against all humans, seeking to harm us and lead us away from God. But we’ll see more about Absalom’s rebellion in the future.

For today, we can learn from this incident how sin can spread to our children and become a snare to us through them. We can see how hatred can turn into murder if we don’t forgive our enemies. We can see how not disciplining sin can lead to sin spreading. David tolerated Amnon’s sin, and it led to destruction in the family. We can see how family can be difficult, and healing can also occur through difficulties.

We most of all see that our choices have larger consequences than we realize. If I today and the rest of my days live a faithful life to God, I may impact my children, their children and their children’s children toward Christ. I may be a Christian today in part or in full because my ancestors down through ages sought after God and worshipped God, and set forth a lineage of faith.

You can change the entire course of your family in a new direction by giving your life to Christ. Or you can cause sin to spread like wildfire through your family and hundreds of others by rejecting God and choosing sin. What will you choose? As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Let that be your heart cry today:

"Lord help me to set a lineage of faith. I choose to serve the Lord, me and my family. In Jesus name, Amen."